September 29, 2007

Confessions of My Ridiculous 1970s-80s Misperceptions

I'm amazed (and dismayed) by how Pelagian a view I held of Mother Teresa when I was younger.

I thought she was the opposite of St. Padre Pio, a mystic who concerned himself with spiritual matters (I had that wrong too, as he built a hospital).

I thought Mother Teresa herself decided to work among the poor in Calcutta and that her joyful and bubbly persona was simply the result of positive thinking or representative of her natural personality. She seemed too much a "people person" unlike the gruffer St. Pio.

Reading her letters, one gets an entirely different perspective.

Mother Teresa was every bit the mystic as Padre Pio and every bit as entirely reliant upon God. While St. Pio's reliance upon God and favor with God was made manifest daily by his stigmata, with Mother Teresa I never got a sense of God's imprimatur on her ministry (as embarrassing as that sounds given the gospel imperative to attend and love the poor). It's hard to describe. Oh I knew her to be a saint, but I thought her sanctity more of a Deist variety than Padre Pio's, who was constantly getting messages and interlocutions from God. Now it seems Mother Teresa did too, with the difference being that hers ended abruptly as her dark night began.

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